One of the most frustrating parts of winter is dry, flaky skin. But humans aren’t the only ones that can have this problem. Cats, too, can suffer from dry skin when the temperatures drop.
Cats with dry skin are more likely to shed skin flakes or dandruff and may also have problems with itching and hair loss. If you see your cat shedding a lot of hair and dry flakes, take steps to reintroduce moisture into your kitty’s coat and keep it comfortable.
Why winter causes dry skin
Your cat’s skin can get dry during winter because the level of humidity present in the air drops. Without extra moisture hanging around in the air, your cat’s skin can’t get refreshed, and moisture can evaporate from the skin more easily.
Dry skin is made even worse when you crank your heat up in the winter. Furnaces don’t always have humidifiers installed in them, meaning your system is blowing hot, dry air throughout the home. The lack of moisture both inside and outside can lead to dandruff, flakiness and itchiness.
In addition, dry skin may lead to bigger problems for your cat. If the dryness and flakiness start to cause severe itching, your cat may scratch itself too often. Consistent scratching may cause excessive hair loss because the hair is being pulled out by the force, as well as scratches or wounds that can become infected.
Treating dry cat skin
Fortunately, treating your cat’s dry, winter skin is quite simple. Some of these tips are most appropriate in winter, while others can improve the look and feel of your cat’s skin and fur year-round.
- Buy a humidifier: One way to improve both you and your cat’s skin is to install a humidifier in your home. Humidifiers re-introduce moisture into the air, so skin can absorb it and stay hydrated throughout the day. This can work wonders on your cat’s skin, especially if it never goes outside.
- Boost omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acid supplements can help maintain skin moisture, make fur shinier and improve the overall appearance and feeling of your cat’s skin and coat. They can also help reduce inflammation and bolster heart health, so an omega-3 supplement is a good one to add all around!
- Provide a nutritious diet: Make sure your cat is eating a balanced diet filled with lots of vitamins and minerals. A full suite of nutrients is necessary to keep your cat’s skin and fur healthy, smooth, shiny and moisturized. If your cat is not getting the nutrients it needs, its skin and fur will be the first to suffer, since the body allocates nutrients to the most crucial bodily functions first.
- Bathe your cat less: Bathing your cat too often might be drying out its skin because you’re shampooing away the natural oils from its fur. Reduce the number of times you bathe your cat each month. Cats can clean themselves naturally, anyway, so baths shouldn’t be necessary except for when your cat gets dirty or is being groomed.
- Brush your cat more: Not only is brushing your cat great for bonding and soothing, but it can also be helpful in keeping your cat’s skin healthy. Brushing stimulates the hair follicles in skin and also distributes the hair’s natural oils across the skin to reinvigorate it.
Other causes of dry skin
Cats might also get dry skin because of other problems, including fleas, fungal infections and allergies. If your cat tends to scratch at itself a lot and its dry skin isn’t getting better after trying the above-mentioned tips, another health problem might be at hand.
Check your cat for fleas by examining its fur and looking for signs of live fleas or flea dirt—a brownish-red substance fleas leave behind. If you spot fleas, you’ll want to take your cat into the vet to get flea shampoo and removal instructions.
Fungal or bacterial infections of the skin can be harder to spot. Look for inflamed and red sections of skin in addition to the dry, flaky patches. Your vet will probably need to prescribe an anti-fungal or antibacterial medication to rid your cat of this issue.
If your cat has known allergies, check to see if it may have made contact with its allergen—whether a food or other substance. Contact with an allergen can cause atopic dermatitis, or a physical reaction on the surface of the skin. Visit a vet if you suspect your cat may have allergies to have it tested.
Soft skin, calm cat
If your cat is acting irritated or stressed this winter, it may be suffering from skin problems beneath its fur. Check out its skin and try these tips to help make your cat more comfortable throughout the season.